Previously on Fringe: the entire friggin' series. It's a full minute and a half of scenes that run the gamut from the first episode of the first season to last season's finale, a collection of clips that I imagine would somehow be both enlightening and utterly baffling to new viewers. Hilariously, pretty much anything that has to do with the short-lived Cortexiphan Kids is excised from any kind of explanation.
But for good ol' completely-appropriate-to-the-storyline, nothing beats having a character talk to a shrink, which Olivia does for about an hour and a half to open Season 3. Olivia seems kind of zombified, but it's not like she was always the giggliest agent of the FBI. The doctor, a matronly type in a blue cardigan, tells Olivia that she's just trying to help Olivia get her life back so she can back home to her job and family. "This is not my home," Olivia intones. "Because you come from another universe?" says the doctor, clearly having gone over this a time or two.
The doctor pleasantly says, basically, that given all the freaky shit Olivia sees as a matter of course in her job -- plus the bump on her ol' coconut -- it's not surprising that Olivia has come up with this fantasy as a way of processing the trauma. Olivia denies that it's a fantasy, so the doctor winds up throwing a little more background story on the table for all the new viewers who are joining us this year, right? Right?
We see that the practically catatonic Olivia has her arms strapped to the chair she's in, and she has on some kind of zip-up one piece mental-patient suit, I'm presuming. The doctor picks up a picture of Olivia with a woman and asks if this is Olivia's mother. "She looks like her, but it isn't her," says Olivia. The doctor holds up pictures of Alt-Charlie and Agent Lincoln Lee, so Olivia can deny that they're her partners. Or maybe we have this all wrong and the doctor is just playing "marry/fuck/kill" with Olivia, who is being NO FUN.
There's another picture, one of Fauxlivia or Olivialt or Bolivia or whatever nomenclature you prefer, and she's grinning while sporting a gold medal around her neck whilst holding a huge firearm. "And who is this?" asks the doctor. "Another Olivia Dunham. The Olivia Dunham from over here," says Olivia. Back in our universe, that woman's probably looking to unseat a Democrat in the midterm elections.
The doctor asks Olivia how all this "other universe" stuff likely sounds to someone else, and Olivia admits it sounds preposterous, but it's the truth.